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SURPRISE PACKAGE.

 

An evil-looking land mine was the unexpected catch made by Dale Gretton MM2c, of Lansing, Mich., as he manipulated the shovel of his crane on Saipan recently.

How did. the Seabee react? "Wow!" he said.
It seemed like ten years before I got it back on the ground," he added rather unnecessarily.

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May, 1945.


Two Seabees who helped rescue twenty men who had been blown from or jumped off a burning transport in the Philippines have been awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal. The presentation was made by Vice Admiral T. C. Kinkaid, USN, Commander, Seventh Fleet.


With two other servicemen' the Seabees, James A. Honiff, CM1c, of Midlothin, Illinois, and Sava Salaja, Cox, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin were in a LCVP off shore where they heard an explosion and saw flames shoot up from the ship. They rushed to the scene.


Japanese planes returned to strafe the vessel and the victims in the water, but the four men stayed on the job until they had hauled in every survivor.

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CBMU played role during the last act of the Battle of Germany.


Maintenance Unit 629 split into four detachments, was with Allied Army's in the smash into Germany and the low countries. These Seabees had an important part in the crossing of the Rhine, including the surge into the Remagen Beachhead.


One Detachment was in the thick of the viscous battle at Aachen. The Seabees were in the city at the height of the German winter counter-offensive.


Three of the four detachments assigned to the Rhine operation left LeHavre, France, last November. The fourth took off from Orly Airfield, near Paris, on 6, March 1945.


Detachment One moved through Belgium and eventually joined other small boat units attached to the First Army at Aachen. They were the first Seabees to enter Germany.


When the Germans broke through last Christmas, the Seabees operated under Army Command, as heavy equipment operators and drivers, and moved storage dumps to safety.


They were among the last personnel to evacuate Aachen and made their withdrawal under fire.


The unit went forward to the Rhine at Remagen on 14 March and started work on Pontoon barges. Enemy reaction was fierce and included attacks by the new Jet planes. Working without rest, it completed one barge in less than 24 hours and a second a day later. At this time the Ludendorf bridge collapsed and the Seabees were called off the pontoon assignment to await further orders.


Detachment Two arrived at Third Army Headquarters at Nancy, France, causing some M.P.'s to wonder what the Navy was preparing to do 400 miles from the coast. The detachment was shifted to Toul, France, and with Army engineers built a pile driver barge for use on the Moselle river. The barge is believed to have been the first such Navy pontoon completed in inland France.


The Meuse river was the first destination of Detachment Three, attached to the Third Army. Three men assembled Army Sea Mules and demonstrated their operation for the Army. The detachment made procurement trips into Germany in search of tools, supplies and coal. These trips resulted in the Seabees being among the first to cross the Siegfried Line.


The detachment assisted in the Rhine crossing the at Wesel. Operations on the Rhine, their report stated, were carried out during the day and at night by flood light, at times under fire.


After preliminary work at Wandre, Belgium, Detachment Four found itself part of the faculty of the "River Rat" finishing school, An Army school for personnel earmarked for barge and small boat assembly and operation. Practice was held on the Meuse river.


The Detachment Four Seabees later moved to Krefeld, Germany, where they joined an Army Engineer group. Both outfits worked on a bridge site near Wesel. The Seabees also aided in the pontoon work and undertook the launching of Sea Mules for the Army.

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GUNNERS, FIRST CLASS, TEMPORARY APPONTMENT...April 3, 45


It's a long cry from Broadway to Iwo Jima, but Jimmy Durante's classic comment, "Ev'rybody wants ta get in ta da act !'" well describes the activities of Sea bees Frederick E .. Althaus, SF2c, of Lowell, Michigan, and Earl R. Elliott:, F l c, of Akron, Ohio, who were bored with what they considered a routine construction assignment.


They had been working in front of a Marine battery which had been lobbing howitzer shells over the Seabee project into the Japanese positions. Every few minutes, they cast envious eyes over their shoulders as they watched the guns blast at the Nips. After all, the two reasoned, they'd learned how to use howitzers during their training period in the States, and now what the hell were they doing with a couple of shovels while there was action to be had for the asking!


They found a break in their work, cornered Marine Corporal John Sidor, and poured out their troubles.

"So you want a win the war said the Leatherneck. "Okay! gents, here's your chance so saying, he put the men to work on the howitzer, checking them as they loaded and fired.


Observation reports showed that Althaus, Elliott, and their Marine instructor received partial credit for destroying an enemy pillbox besides inflicting casualties on Japanese personnel.


The two Seabees now claim honors as the first Naval Construction artillery team in World War II.

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EXCITEMENT APLENTY - Jan. 1945


Is operating a bulldozer a combat iob? George H. Dougherty, MM3c, doesn't try to answer that one but he can testify that the assignment sometimes has more than its share of thrills.


Dougherty's battalion landed on Saipan and set to work while Marines were still clearing Japs from the construction area. One of his first jobs was to cut a mile long road up a jungle-covered hill. It took his 21-ton bulldozer just three hours to complete the strip although carbines were blazing about him as he worked. Engineers estimate the same assignment, under favorable conditions, would have taken Japanese road builders several days.


After three weeks of constant use by heavy equipment, without maintenance or additional work, the Dougherty-built road was still in good condition.


Another of the Seabees jobs required him to clear an-area on which an enemy ammunition-dump had stood. With the edge of-his bulldozer blade he broke up concrete gun emplacements and shoved the rubble into holes which needed filling. He didn't have time to pickup individually the hundreds of live rap artillery shells scattered about: so, with his bulldozer, he shoveled them into heaps for the bomb disposal crew to remove later.


Although ticklish enough, Dougherty said, playing hockey with live ammunition wasn't as bad as one of his more-or less regular jobs.


I work my dozer on a high ledge over our battalion's coral quarry, pushing down the loose rock, he explained. The other day the blasting crew left a projecting shelf of rock. Trying to knock it down I ran my "cat" part way out on the ledge and pushed with the blade. The whole shelf split away and fell to the bottom. The bulldozer's treads were left hanging out over the rim. The machine began rocking back and forth and I figured I was a goner!


Needless to say, the Seabee managed to work the dozer safely back to solid ground. He wouldn't be around to tell the story otherwise.

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LESSON IN CONVERSION


The 61st Battalion, working with Army Engineers, converted a crude and inadequate Japanese light plane landing strip into a 8,000-foot heavy bomber airfield in less than 30 days, undergoing air attacks and sniper fire, to do it.


The project was directed .by Lt. Rex M. McCann,CEC, USNR,who helped build two fields on Guadalcanal and in the Bismark archipelago.


Work went forward on a 24-hour basis, four six-hour shifts. The first four days the men li.ved on field rations, slept in foxholes and had only moonlight for illumination. Heavy artillery roared less than 100 yards away until infantry advances made possible the advance of the big guns. Bombing and strafing attacks were frequent, but work was never suspended until the planes were actually sighted.


The original strip built by the Japanese was surfaced only by a thin layer of hard loam, which had to be stripped off. Deep swampy holes were filled with small river boulders and a gravel base and surface applied and rolled.


A thousand feet of pierced-plank matting was placed at each end of the 8,000 foot strip to absorb the shock of landings by the heavy planes. Artillery spotting "grasshopper" planes were using the strip shortly after work started; two-engined planes were using it within two weeks and less than 10 days later the field was opened for business.

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FIRST HUNDRED RAIDS THE HARDEST


A detail of 25 Seabee Specialists assigned to unloading operations aboard a cargo vessel during the early phases of Leyte invasion, underwent aerial bombing' strafing and torpedo attacks for 17 days while their ship layoff the assault beaches.

During this period the Seabees experienced 101 air raid alerts totaling 106 hours - approximately one quarter of the time spent there but worked continually unless under direct attack.


Enemy planes sneaked through American air cover to bomb shipping in the gulf and the Seabees closest call came! during an attack by 15 dive bombers. The Armed Guard crew aboard the vessel, however, knocked down four of the enemy raiders. American fighter planes and anti~aircraft gunners ashore and on other vessels accounted for the remainder.

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DIVERS BEAT SCHEDULE ON RUGGED JOB, JAN. 1945.


Six Seabees don't think there's anything unusual about the underwater blasting job they did off Saipan. But three of them nearly drowned and all suffered severe contusions from being battered against razor-sharp coral reefs as, instead of underseas divers' suits and helmets, they used only improvised gas masks while they dynamited a forty-foot wide submarine corridor through solid coral rock.


The men worked from an unwieldy pontoon barge, in depths of 30 to 50 feet. They were periled constantly by sudden drops in the ocean floor and by the jagged, saw toothed edges of the reefs on which they were working. The holes had to be filled in, the reefs blasted out.


The only diving apparatus they had was a makeshift. A hundred-foot length of welding hose was attached to a gas mask and oxygen was supplied by an improvised air pump.


First, job for the men each morning was to make up a number of explosive bundle-bombs, Each of these contained 20 to 30 sticks of dynamite, with a fuse stick in the center. Then a diver would drop over the Side, carrying as many bundles as he could

manage. The bundles were wired to a detonator in the barge.


Reaching the bottom, the diver would estimate the area to be blasted, stuff his charges into caves or holes, and cover them with rocks so that they would blow in the right direction. As soon as he finished, he would signal to be hauled back into the barge. His mates would start up the barge's motor, maneuver out of danger, and explode the charge.


When the barge stopped rocking, said one of the divers, "we would go back , and take down some more dynamite.


The grueling nature of the work took its toll. Three times exhausted men

were pulled from the sea barely in time to save them from drowning.


Despite the handicaps under which they worked, however, the Seabees completed

the job ahead of schedule.

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A NIGHT TO REMEMBER - Jan, 1945.


Seabee Richard P. Forde, CM2c, is going to be a very cautious man from now on out because, he says, he used up all his good luck for the next 20 years in one night at Peleliu.


Washed overboard from the deck of his grounded pontoon barge, Forde spent most of the night Swimming along the reef which surrounds the island, the target for Japanese snipers, as well as for Marines and his Seabee mates.


The wave which swept Forde into the sea also refloated the barge and the Seabee was forced to make his way to a pontoon causeway which had been set up about a mile distant. Divesting himself of all his clothes except his shorts and socks, He wished later that I had kept my shoes, he said, because live coral is as sharp as a razor and I cut my feet pretty badly - he struck for the causeway.


About halfway there, swimming over the deep spots and sort of hopping along where it was shallow," Forde recalled, "I passed a small island on the reef. The Marines on Peleliu proper were throwing up flare shells about every ten seconds and I was fired upon every time a flare hit the water. I still don't know whether it was the Japs or Marines, but I have a hunch it was the Japs, because they never hit me.


For the next half mile," he continued, I had to go very slowly, ducking under water at each flare, then making progress when it was dark. Just as I was getting used to being a target, something happened that really scared me. I stepped on an eel.


After working his way around two Marine amphibious tanks, placed on the reef to protect the causeways from infiltrating Japs, Forde crouched behind an abandoned Japanese barge and proceeded to make his identity known to Seabees and Marines guarding the causeway less than 100 yards away. It took him 15 minutes, Forde said, to convince his shipmates that he really was a Seabee and not a Japanese with a Boston accent.


When I reached the causeway, I learned that the guards had fired more than 70 rounds at me but there was so much noise from the firing ashore and the trucks on the causeway that I never noticed it," concluded the Seabee.

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TIMELY SHELLING - JAN. 1945.


The Japs had just scored a straddle on the ammunition-loaded barge operated by John A. Mayc, MM1c, at Peleliu, and were lining up for the final blast when a U.S. cruiser eased the situation.

Mayo's barge, propeller fouled, had-drifted in close to shore while the screw was being cleared. The enemy mortars had dropped one shell a little short; second slightly over. The next one was "it,"Mayo thought.


The cruiser's gun opened up, wiped out the mortar position. We soon got away from there," Mayo added unnecessarily.

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"PHILIPPINE AIRFIELD SITE" - SEABEE NEWS SERVICE REPORT.


WAS WELL HIDDEN AND IN SAMAR ISLAND TERRITORY YET UN-INVADED BY AMERICAN FORCES BUT TWO CIVIL ENGINEER CORPS OFFICERS, A CHIEF PETTY OFFICER AND CIVILIAN GEOLOGIST PENETRATED THE AREA AND RECEIVED A ROUSING FILIPINO WELCOME INTENDED FOR GENERAL DOUGLAS MACARTHUR. THE INCIDENT IS MONTHS OLD, BUT WAS NOT RELEASED FROM SECURITY RESTRICTIONS UNTIL SAMAR ISLAND WAS SECURED.


AN AIRFIELD SITE AT SAN PEDRO LEYTE, WAS UNSATISFACTORY AND A NEW AREA, LARGE ENOUGH TO ACCOMMODATE THE STRIPS AND PERSONNEL REQUIRED TO BUILD THEM WAS SPOTTED ON GEOLOGICAL MAPS. COMMANDER BRADFORD M. BOWKER, THEN OFFICER IN CHARGE OF THE 61ST BATTALION; LT. COMMANDER HAROLD KOOPMAN, IT'S EXECUTIVE OFFICER, CHARLES T. MACDOUGLAS, CCM, AND DR. J. GILLULYOF THE ENGINEER OFFICE OF GENERAL MACARTHUR'S STAFF, WERE ASSIGNED THE EXPLORATION JOB. ABOARD AN "LCM" ESCORTED BY A SUBCHASER THE FOUR MEN STOLE INTO GUIAN HARBOR AT NIGHT. THEY WENT ASHORE AT DAWN TO BE GREETED BY HUNDREDS OF WILDLY CHEERING NATIVES WHO, AFTER THREE YEARS OF Japanese DOMINATION, THOUGHT THE AMERICANS WERE LANDING IN FORCE. MISTAKING COMMANDER BOWKER FOR GENERAL MACARTHUR, THEY BROUGHT AMERICAN AND FILIPINO FLAGS OUT OF HIDING AND DISPLAYED BANNERS SAYING "WELCOME GENERAL MACARTHUR". FILIPINO GUERRILLAS WHO HAD CLEANED THE JAPANESE OUT OF THE AREA, WENT ALL OUT IN THEIR WELCOME - A FEAST AND A DANCE, FEATURING A NATIVE ORCHESTRA WHICH DID "OH JOHNNY" AND "ALEXANDERS RAGTIME BAND", TO A FARE YOU WELL, THROWING IN NATIVE MUSIC FOR GOOD MEASURE. THE FOLLOWING DAY, THE HONORED GUESTS WEE TAKEN TO A 300 HUNDRED YEAR OLD SPANISH CHURCH FOR MASS, OFFICIATED BY A 79 YEAR OLD PRIEST.


EXPLORATIONS BEGAN FROM A COMMAND CAR LANDED FROM THE LCM LARGELY UNDER GUIDANCE OF CHIEF MACDOUGLASS, AN ABLE WOODSMAN, FORMER MARINE SCOUT IN WW1 AND A FORMER MEMBER OF THE TEXAS RANGERS. THE SITE WAS FOUND APPROVED AND TWO BATTALIONS - THE 93RD AND 61ST - WERE MOVED IN. WITHIN TWO WEEKS LIGHT PLANES WERE LANDING ON THE STRIP AND IN LESS THAN A MONTH, TRANSPORTS WERE USING IT.

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"CLOSE CALLS ROUTINE FOR SEABEE"


READING EAGLE MARCH 21, 1968.


KHE SANH VIETNAM (UPI).


FRENCHIE GOT HIS SECOND PURPLE HEART THIS WEEK. FRAGMENTS FROM AN ARTILLERY SHELL THAT KILLED TWO MARINES, HIT HIM IN THE LEFT LEG.


IT WAS A RELATIVELY MINOR WOUND FOR THIS PLACE. WITHIN AN HOUR HE HAD BEEN TREATED AND SENT BACK TO THE BUNKER FOR FIVE DAYS OF LIGHT DUTY. FRENCHIE IS EMIL LEBLANC, 22, EQUIPMENT OPERATOR 3RD CLASS, OF OXNARD CA. HE HEADS A SQUAD OF SEABEES SUPPORTING THE MARINES AT THE BESIEGED OUTPOST. CLOSE CALLS WITH INCOMING COMMUNIST SHELLS IS BECOMING A DAILY EXPERIENCE FOR FRENCHIE AND THE OTHER SEABEES HERE. BECAUSE OF THE CRITICAL NEED FOR BUNKERS, THEY ARE WORKING OVERTIME THROUGH THE ALMOST CONSTANT SHELLING TO HEW NEW HOLES OUT OF THE DEEP RED SOIL OF THE PLATEAU. IT IS A DANGEROUS BUSINESS.


PAUL PUCHALA, 23, OF NEW BEDFORD, MASS., HAS ONE OF THE TOUGHER JOBS. ABOARD HIS GIANT BULLDOZER 'POOCH" CANNOT HEAR THE MORTAR AND SNIPER ROUNDS THE COMMUNISTS OFTEN FIRE AT HIM. 'WHEN I WORK, I HAVE A MARINE STAND IN FRONT OF THE DOZER FAR ENOUGH AWAY SO HE CAN HEAR THE SOUND OF INCOMING ARTILLERY ABOVE THE ENGINE" POOCH SAID, IF HE JUMPS, I JUMP." POOCH'S BULLDOZER IS ONE OF THE FEW PIECES OF HEAVY EQUIPMENT THAT THE SEABEES HAVE MANAGED TO KEEP IN RUNNING CONDITION HERE.


"JUNKER JEEP"


TAKE FRENCHIE'S JEEP FOR INSTANCE. IT HAS BEEN HIT BY SHRAPNEL FOUR TIMES AND NOW NEEDS PARTS FROM THREE OTHER JUNKED JEEPS TO KEEP OPERATING. "EVERYTIME WE TAKE A PIECE OF EQUIPMENT OUT I GET THE FEELING THAT CHARLIE SAYS " THERE GOES THOSE STUPID SEABEES AGAIN. LET'S SHOOT AT THEM SAID DAVID NALL, 31, OF BELLE GLADE, FLA., ANOTHER EQUIPMENT OPERATOR, IT DOES NOT MAKE WORKING ANY EASIER. THE RISKS BEING TAKEN BY THE SEABEES ARE PAYING OFF. THE CAMPS BUNKERS ARE GETTING DEEPER AND FEWER MEN DIE. EVERY DAY THE COMMUNISTS WAIT, THE DEEPER WE DIG. FRENCHIE SAID. HE IS GOING TO HAVE A TOUGH TIME OVER RUNNING THIS PLACE NOW.


IT HAS BEEN TOUGH FOR THE SEABEES, TOO. IN THE PAST EIGHT WEEKS, THE SEABEES HAVE HAD ONE OF THE HIGHEST CASUALTY RATES IN THE CAMP.

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"THE LEWISTON DAILY SUN", JULY 2, 1945.


"SEABEES MORE THAN BUILDERS AT SUBIC BAY".


CLASH WITH Japanese PATROLS WHILE SEARCHING FOR MISSING AIRMEN.


GUIDES ERROR COSTLY.


BY SPENCER DAVIS;


SUBIC BAY, LUZON - SEABEES HAVE HAD A WAY OF COMBINING COMBAT WITH REMARKABLE CONSTRUCTION EXPLOITS SINCE THE START OF THE PACIFIC WAR, SO THE WORK OF THE 102ND NAVY CONSTRUCTION BATTALION AT SUBIC BAY IS MORE TYPICAL THAN EXCEPTIONAL.


STILL THERE STORY IS NOTABLE.


THE SEABEES LANDED AT SUBIC WHILE HEAVY FIGHTING WAS STILL UNDERWAY IN THE RUGGED ZAMBALES MOUNTAINS, ON BATTAN, AND ACROSS TREACHEROUS ZIGZAG PASS LEADING TO CLARK FIELD AND MANILLA.


LT. (JG) MATHEW C. FARMER, DUBLIN GA. OFFICER IN CHARGE OF HEAVY CONSTRUCTION EQUIPMENT WAS CALLED UPON ONE DAY TO BUILD AN AIRSTRIP FOR CUB ARTILLERY SPOTTER PLANES AND IN TWO HOURS HIS BULLDOZER CREWS HAD FINISHED THE JOB OF BLAZING A SHORT RUNWAY. THE ARMY BROUGHT FOUR CUBS TO THE FIELD AND ON THE SAME DAY THEY WERE SCOUTING OVER ZIGZAG IN SEARCH OF ENEMY GUN POSITIONS. BUT THE JAPANESE WERE WELL AWARE OF THIS DEVELOPMENT AND SENT A NIGHT INFILTRATION PARTY TO THE FIELD. THEY TOSSED GRENADES AT PARKED AIRCRAFT AND BURNED TWO OF THEM. ARMY GUARDS SCATTERED THE ENEMY, PUT OUT THE FIRES AND RETURNED TO THEIR PERIMETER BUT THE JAPANESE RETURNED AND DESTROYED THE TWO REMAINING PLANES. NEXT MORNING FARMER HAD AN EMERGENCY CALL FROM THE ARTILLERY. WE NEED A NEW AIRSTRIP. HE WAS TOLD. BULLDOZERS WENT BACK TO WORK, THIS TIME IN A BETTER PROTECTED AREA, AND COB PLANES AGAIN TOOK OFF ON THEIR INDISPENSABLE SPOTTER MISSIONS, WITHOUT FURTHER INTERFERENCE.


THE CRASH OF A C-45 TRANSPORT PLANE EAST OF OLONGAPO BROUGHT OUT A LARGE SORTIE OF SEABEES AND RESULTED IN A BLOODY CLASH WITH JAPANESE PATROLS. ON SATURDAY MARCH 10, THE 102ND WAS ASKED TO ORGANIZE A SEARCH PARTY FOR SIX MISSING AIRMEN. AT LEAST FIVE HAD BEEN SEEN BAILING OUT NEAR THE POINT WHERE THEIR PLANE HAD CRASHED.


LT. OLIN EDIGAR, WICHITA KANSAS, AND FOUR CHIEF PETTY OFFICERS LED A SEARCH PARTY OF FORTY TO FIFTY MEN. THEY FOUND THREE OF THE CREW SAFE AND WELL IN THE HEAVILY TIMBERED WILDERNESS OF ZIGZAG PASS AND BROUGHT THEM BACK TO SAFETY BUT THEIR JOB WASN'T FINISHED. THREE FLYERS STILL WERE MISSING. ACCORDINGLY A NEW SEARCH PARTY SET OUT THE NEXT DAY UNDER EDIGAR. THE FIRST TROUBLE IN A LONG TROUBLESOME DAY CAME WHEN THEIR NEGRITO GUIDE MISUNDERSTOOD INSTRUCTIONS AND LED SEABEES DIRECTLY INTO THE COMBAT AREA THEN CENTERED NEAR PURPLE HEART RIDGE, MIDWAY THROUGH ZIGZAG PASS.


WE DECIDED TO SPLIT UP INTO THREE GROUPS, SAID EDIGAR, LT. (JG) A. J. FONZO PITTSBURGH PA. AND CPO FRED SANDERS, DENISTON TX., AND 15 MEN WENT IN ONE DIRECTION. COLMAN AND FISHER LED ANOTHER GROUP OF FIFTEEN AND I HAD 20 MEN WITH ME.


WE CIRCLED AROUND FOR AN HOUR AND A HALF. THE NEGRITO AT THE HEAD OF MY COLUMN HOLLERED OUT 'JAPS" AND FADED AWAY. HE DIDN'T COME BACK UNTIL WE WERE SAFE. WE WERE COMING UP THE CREST OF A HIL WHEN WE SAW THEM, DRESSED IN GREENISH KHAKI. I CALLED OUT AND SAIF WE WERE AMERICANS. THEY ANSWERED AND IT WASN'T FILIPINO, SO WE OPENED. THEY KILLED ONE OF MY MEN, WOUNDED TWO OTHERS. THEY HAD A MACHINE GUN BUT DIDN'T HAVE TIME TO SET IT UP AND WHEN THEY FINALLY CLEARED OUT OF THE GULLY WE COUNTED SIX DEAD NIPS. THAT WAS THE FIRST BRUSH BUT NOT THE LAST.


LT. EDIGAR SENT THREE OF HIS MEN BACK TO THE OTHER GROUPS FOR MORE AMMUNITION AND LITTERS TO HELP HIS WOUNDED OUT. ONLY TWO OF THEM MADE IT OUT. QUARTERMASTER 1/C HARRY SEELEY OF NEWBURGH N.Y., AND SEAMAN 1/C HARVEY KIPP OF DAYTON OH. THE THIRD SEABEE WAS KILLED IN AN AMBUSH. PONZO AND COLEMAN HEARD THE SHOTS AND MADE THEIR WAY TOWARDS THEM. IT WAS DUSK AND AS THEIR PARTY CROSSED A ROCKY STREAM MORE JAPANESE THREW GRENADES AMONG THEM, KILLING THREE MORE SEABEES. THE FIGHT WAS ON AGAIN AND BEFORE IT ENDED PONZO KILLED A JAPANESE CAPTAIN. RUNNING INTO ONE AMBUSH AFTER ANOTHER, ALL THREE SEABEE GROUPS RETIRED TOWARD THEIR CAMPS. THEY HADN'T FOUND THE MISSING FLYERS AND FIVE OF THEIR MEN WERE DEAD, FOUR WERE WOUNDED.


WE GOT BACK AT MIDNIGHT, EDIGAR WENT ON. IT WASN'T UNTIL WE RETURNED THAT WE LEARNED BOTH THE PILOT AND CO-PILOT HAD BEEN FOUND IN GOOD CONDITION NEAR THEIR PLANE AND THE SIXTH MEMBER OF THE TRANSPORT CREW FOR WHOM WE HAD BEEN LOOKING HAD NOT BAILED OUT WHEN THE SHIP CRASHED. EDIGAR AND CHAPLAIN ERNEST WILLIAMS, BOISE IDAHO, RETURNED TO THE SEABEE BATTLEGROUND LATER AND BURIED THE MEN THEY WERE UNABLE TO CARRY BACK WITH THEM.

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Blood, sweat, guts keep road open, December 10, 1967

 

 

"CUT their supply lines and bleed the Americans to death on the DMZ," the Communist order read.
And with a strategy tantamount to killing an unborn baby by severing its umbilical cord, the Viet Cong struck at the Navy Seabees.
The attack came out of the jungle bordering a 16½-mile stretch of shell-pocked Route 1 between Phu Loc and Lang Co in Vietnam's coastal lowlands.
Mortar rounds rained out of the sky like exploding hail, ripping at bulldozers and rock crushers, caving in culverts, blasting newly-built bridges and sending lethal shrapnel in a deadly search for scurrying construction crews.
When the attack was over, beaten back by the Marine units providing security for the Navy force, the Seabees remounted their battle-scarred dozers and began the task of reopening the lifeline to the DMZ.
"Blood, sweat and pure guts is keeping the vital road link open between Hue and Da Nang," said an American officer.
"If the VC blow this new bridge, we'll build another right alongside," declared Seabee Petty Officer Daniel J. Gomez, operating a pile driver outside Phu Loc.
Gomez and 61 fellow Seabees are members of Tango Detail of the Naval Mobile Construction Bn. 74. Seventeen of their crew have been bled by VC gunshot since they took over the task of keeping the 16½ miles of road open between Phu Loc and Lang Co last August.
Two days after they completed one important bridge link in the road, the VC blew it up. And the dawn of many a day has found huge trenches making the road impassable at spots the Seabees have labored long and hard to make freeway-smooth.
The road has become a war within a war, pitting the destructive skill and determination of the VC guerrillas against the constructive might and determination of the U.S. Seabees.
"It's becoming a simple matter of showing the VC who's boss over this stretch of highway," said Lt. George P. Hibbard, officer-in-charge of Tango Detail. "And there isn't. any doubt in our minds that the convoys will keep rolling toward the DMZ."
Watching the Seabees remount their battered machines and begin rebuilding their road after a Cong attack is reminiscent of an old John Wayne movie about the famed Navy crews in World War II.
And Seabees like Gomez of Baton Rouge, La., shrug off the hazardous duty of their present assignment as if it. were an expected part of the routine.
"It, can be discouraging to see the fruits of your labor go up in smoke from a VC attack," said Senior Chief Builder Dewey D. Ray, "but it isn't hard to rebuild your morale and the bridges in light of what the guys are going through at the DMZ end of the line."
Currently, the hard-pressed 62-man detail is engaged in construction of two bridges, installing 28 culverts, filling potholes and shell holes along the entire length of the road and completely resurfacing 2½ miles of road north of Lang Co.
The Seabees, assigned to the 3rd Naval Construction Brigade, are also upgrading roads and building bridges from below Quang Ngai City along Route 1 to the DMZ, along "Rocket" Route 9 from Khe Sanh to Dong Ha, and across the Hue Bypass.
Pfc. Roger Spradley, a, member of Echo Co.. 2nd Bn., 26th Marines, guarding the Seabecs of Tango Detail, has no doubt. as to who is boss of Route 1.
"These guys never lose heart," the 19-year-old Leatherneck declared. "No matter how much they get shot at, they go back and get the job done again in short order.

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HE WAS ONLY 17: MY FATHER’S NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCE IN OKINAWA JAPAN IN JUNE 1945

By BrendaOlson June 5, 2014.


CNN PRODUCER NOTE told me I have three photo albums full of pictures taken between October 11, 1944 and April 25, 1946. Most of the pictures were taken either by my father or one of his buddies. I have no idea how he managed to have the film developed. When I was younger, I did not take an interest in the photos or war stories and basically took my father's participation in the war for granted. It wasn't until I got older and realized the self-sacrifice he and the other young men of his era suffered in order to fight for our freedoms that I really became interested in the history of WWII. When I think of him enlisting before he graduated from high school and at the young age of 17, it just blows my mind. I can't imagine what his mother went through either. When my son was 17, all I had to worry about was his driving, but my grandmother had to worry every second of every day because her son was in harm's way all the time. He was across the ocean in another country fighting a war, using guns and ammunition against other young men. The horror that they went through - I am just speechless when I think about it. I know my father suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder for years after he returned home to the states and it saddens me that his youth was taken from him. Every time I look at the pictures, I am awestruck to realize my own father was there and experienced this war first hand. He almost died. The medical core that stitched him up on the beach not only saved my father's life that day, but because my father survived the war, he was able to have me and my brother and we in turn were able to have three more children so the doctor who saved my father's life, saved five more lives.” '

- hhanks, CNN iReport producer



When Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941, my father was only 14 years old. During his high school years, he and his school buddies desired to be a part of the war effort and believed they could make a difference. In reality, they were too young and inexperienced with life to realize what was in store for their future after they enlisted.


My father’s name was Myles Robert Lee. Shortly after he started his senior year in high school, at the mere age of 17, he enlisted into the service. On October 11, 1944, he and 52 other future soldiers were on a train from Boston heading to Geneva, New York. He spent ten weeks in boot camp before being shipped over seas. He was part of the Seabees Battalion and was stationed in Okinawa, Japan.


My father shared many war stories with my brother and me when we were growing up in the 1960’s, and one particular story still brings me chills.


My father’s ship was docked along Brown Beach in Okinawa, Japan. His military job was to mechanically fix the trucks if and when they broke down, drive them to certain locations and most importantly, protect the cargo. He was responsible for a truck carrying ammunition, bombs and other explosives. During the Invasion of Okinawa in early June 1945, the Japanese planes were flying overhead and the ship was under attack. I remember my father specifically telling me he could actually see the whites of the Japanese man’s eyes as he carried out his suicide mission crashing into the ship. There was massive fire surrounding the truck prior to the explosion. My father was able to drive the truck off the ship during the attack in order to protect the cargo from the fire. My father had difficulty driving off the deck with the weight of the cargo on board. He made it to shore, but the cargo shifted and he was forced to stop the truck along the beach and climb on top of the cargo in order to tighten the security straps. During the attack, a nearby crane operator was trying to take cover, but the crane snapped from its ties and was in direct line with my father’s truck. The crane’s hook struck my father at full force sending him air born into the water below. His fellow Seabees watched in horror as the crane catapulted my father leaving him face down in the water along the shore. The waves were splashing over him, and it is a miracle he survived. The few Seabees, who witnessed the accident from the safety of a bomb crater, believed my father died that day, but the unit listed him as “Missing in Action.”


Luckily the Marine Medical Core found my father face down on the shore bleeding and unconscious. It wasn’t safe to transport him to an infirmary until after the attack ended, so my father was forced to undergo surgery to stitch up his head wound right on the beach during the attack. My father’s amnesia kept his identity from being known for a period of time, but thankfully, my father did survive and was able to return to the states in October 1946.


The slideshow features several pictures in Okinawa, Japan as well as a snapshot of the Japanese Surrender on September 2, 1945. My father passed away on June 22, 1995 and left a trunk full of pictures, personal letters and other memorabilia from World War II. The letters are currently being compiled into a diary from 1944 through 1946. My mother donated some of my father’s uniforms, badges and other memorabilia to the Wright Museum located in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire.


God bless all our military men and women of yesterday, today and tomorrow. We owe our freedom to their bravery and dedication to our country.

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24th C.B. VETERANS STORY - WW2

MAY 27TH - WE BOARDED THE U.S.S. PRESIDENT JACKSON, A TASK FORCE TRANSPORT AT NOUMEA, NEW CALEDONIA.
MAY 28TH - 6:00 AM GOT UNDERWAY, AT 7:00 AM. WE ANCHORED JUST OUTSIDE THE MINE BELT AT NOUMEA.
MAY 29TH - TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY MEMBERS OF CASU 8 NAVAL AVIATION UNIT CAME ABOARD OUR SHIP FROM HIGGINS BOATS. FROM THIS DATE UNTIL
JUNE 6TH - WE CRUISED IN THE WATERS AROUND NEW CALEDONIA PRACTICING INVASION LANDINGS WITH FULL BATTLE GEAR. TWICE DURING THAT TIME WE MADE OVERNIGHT LANDINGS, UNLOADING AND RELOADING ALL OUR EQUIPMENT AND SUPPLIES, SOME 1000 TONS.
JUNE 5TH - OUR CONVOY WAS FORMED. FOUR NAVAL TRANSPORTS, USS PRESIDENT JACKSON, USS PRESIDENT ADAMS, USS PRESIDENT HAYES, USS MCCAULY, AND ONE LIBERTY TRANSPORT THE ALGOCAD.
JUNE 6TH - 6:00 AM GOT UNDERWAY BOUND FOR GUADALCANAL 1000 MILES NORTH. ABOUT 7:00 AM SIX DESTROYERS JOINED US AS ESCORT. NOTHING UNUSUAL HAPPENED UNTIL ABOUT 5:00 A, THE MORNING OF JUNE 8TH WHEN OUR GUN-WATCH SPOTTED AN ENEMY AIRCRAFT PRESUMABLY AN OBSERVATION PLANE. I FORGOT TO MENTION THAT THE JACKSON WAS THE FLAG SHIP IN THE CONVOY, AND HAD A REAR ADMIRAL ABOARD SO NATURALLY ALL ORDERS WERE DISPATCHED AND RECEIVED ABOARD HER. EXACTLY AT NOON THE SAME DAY, GENERAL QUARTERS WERE SOUNDED, WHICH MEANT THAT THE CREW "MAN" THEIR BATTLE STATIONS. NINETEEN ENEMY BOMBERS AND NINETEEN FIGHTERS WERE PICKED UP BY THE RADAR EQUIPMENT ABOUT 100 MILES STRAIGHT AHEAD AND WE COULD EXPECT AN ATTACK ABOUT 1:00 PM, BUT NOTHING HAPPENED. THIS TIME AS OUR NAVY AND ARMY FIGHTER PLANES FROM GUADALCANAL INTERCEPTED THE ENEMY. INCIDENTALLY WE RECEIVED A LATER REPORT THAT ALL THE ENEMY WERE SHOT DOWN WITH NO LOSS TO OUR FIGHTERS.
IT WOULD HAVE BEEN FOOLHARDY TO THINK THAT BECAUSE THE ENEMY DID NOT REACH US UP TO THIS TIME, WE WERE SAFE AS THEY WERE WELL AWARE WHAT A VALUABLE PRIZE OUR FORCE OF ABOUT 10,000 MEN, SHIPS AND EQUIPMENT WOULD HAVE BEEN. EVERYTHING SEEMS TO HAPPEN AT 6:00 O'CLOCK.
WE WERE UNDER ATTACK THAT NIGHT BOTH FROM THE AIR AND SEA FROM 6:00 PM TO 1:00 AM THE 9TH, WHEN GENERAL QUARTERS IS SOUNDED ABOARD A TRANSPORT, ALL TROOPS LAY BELOW, SO AS NOT TO GET IN THE WAY OF THE CREW ALSO FOR THEIR OWN PROTECTION. I WAS IN CHARGE OF ONE OF OUR COMPANIES MACHINE-GUN CREWS AND WAS FORTUNATE IN SEEING THE WHOLE WORKS THAT NIGHT, AS I WAS ON TROOP GUN-WATCH, WHICH MEANT THAT I STAND BY, DURING THE BATTLE TO ASSIST THE REGULAR NAVY CREW IF NECESSARY.
DURING THE NIGHT BATTLE IT IS ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO DETERMINE WHICH SHIPS SCORE BITS, HOWEVER, I SAY MANY AIRCRAFT HIT WHICH SEEMED TO EXPLODE AND VANISH, ALSO, SAW ONE Japanese DESTROYER OR "TEN-CAN" FOLD UP. A TORPEDO HITTING HER AMID SHIPS AND ANOTHER LIST SHARPLY TO PORT AND SINK HAVING HER BOW COMPLETELY BLOWN AWAY. ALL SECURE FROM 1 AM ON.
JUNE 9TH - WHEN WE AWOKE THIS MORNING AND ON TOPSIDE WERE SURPRISED TO SEE AN ESCORT OF FOURTEEN SHIPS, BATTLESHIPS,CRUISERS,DESTROYERS AND ONE AIRCRAFT CARRIER, ALL OF WHICH STAYED WITH US UNTIL WE ARRIVED AT GUADALCANAL.
JUNE 10TH - NOTHING UNUSUAL.
JUNE 11TH - 10:00 AM ANCHORED KOLI POINT GUADALCANAL, IMMEDIATELY STARTED TO DISEMBARK TROOPS AND EQUIPMENT, TWO COMPANIES OF 9TH DEFENSE BATTALION MARINES, AND COMANY "D" 24TH CB'S STAYING ABOARD.
JUNE 12TH - 4:00 AM GOT UNDERWAY, ONE HOUR LATER ANCHORED LUNGA POINT. STARTED TO LOAD TROOPS AND EQUIPMENT OF 169TH INFANTRY, U.S. ARMY. 4:00 PM GOT UNDERWAY AND RETURNED TO KOLI POINT WHERE WE LOADED ENOUGH EQUIPMENT FOR COMPANY "B", RE-EMBARKED ON THE HAYES WITH THE EQUIPMENT.
JUNE 13TH - 4:00 AM GOT UNDERWAY, CRUISING BETWEEN TULAGI AND GUADALCANAL UNTIL 3:00 PM THAT DAY WHEN WE HY-TAILED IT OUT BECAUSE ON AN AIR BATTLE NORTH OF GUADALCANAL IN WHICH 33 JAPANESE PLANES WERE SHOT DOWN. OUT LOSSES 2 FIGHTERS. JUNE 13TH WAS THE ANNIVERSARY OF TOJO'S SON BEING KILLED AT GUADALCANAL AND THIS AIR FORCE WAS PART OF A HIGH FORCE THAT THE JAPS HAD INTENDED USING TO BOMB GUADALCANAL IN RETALIATION FOR TOJO'S SON'S DEATH.
JUNE 13 - TO JUNE 16TH OUR CONVOY CRUISES IN THE WATERS BETWEEN THE SOUTHERN SOLOMONS AND NEW HEBRIDES.
JUNE 16TH - ABOUT NOON WE AGAIN ANCHORED AT KOLI POINT, GUADALCANAL. THAT AFTERNOON THE MEMORABLE AIR BATTLE TOOK PLACE, LASTING FROM 3:00 PM TO 5:30 PM AND IN WHICH NINETY SEVEN JAPANESE PLANES WERE SHOT DOWN AND ONLY SIX AMERICAN AND THREE OR FOUR OF THOSE PILOTS SAVED. AGAIN AT 6:00 PM THAT DAY WE GOT UNDERWAY FORE SOME MORE PRACTICE. WE CONTINUED TO PRACTICE, UNTIL JUNE 26TH WHEN WE LEFT NEW HEBRIDES FOR GUADALCANAL. BY THIS TIME WE BELIEVED WE WERE GOING TO SPEND THE REST OF THE WAR PRACTICING.
JUNE 29TH - 10:30 AM ANCHORED KOLI POINT. TOOK ABOARD MORE EQUIPMENT AND 17 DAYS MAIL, ALSO DIS-EMBARKED TEN OF OUR MEN FOUND UNFIT FOR COMBAT.
JUNE 30TH - AT 6:15 AM OUT TROOPS STARTED DISEMBARKING AT TEN DIFFERENT POINTS AND ISLANDS HITTING ALL THEIR PLACES SIMULTANEOUSLY. COMPANIES 'B" & "D" OF THE 24TH CB. LANDED ALONG WITH 1000 MARINES ON WHAT IS NOW CALLED JACKSON BEACH RENDOVA. THERE WERE APPROXIMATELY 300 JAPS ON THIS ISLAND AND WERE COMPLETELY TAKEN BY SURPRISE. THEY MUST HAVE THOUGHT WE WERE RE-ENFORCEMENTS FOR THEM, AS SOME WERE SITTING ON THE BEACH EATING BREAKFAST. AS SOON AS THEY REALIZED WE WERE AMERICANS THEY STARTED TO RUN. THE MARINES WERE UNDER ORDERS TO TAKE NO PRISONERS. THE SEABEES FOUGHT RIGHT ALONG WITH THE MARINES. I HAD CARRIED PART OF A MACHINE GUN, MY RIFLE AND 200 ROUNDS OF AMMUNITION ASHORE AND FULL PACK. AS SOON AS WE LANDED I DISCARDED THE MACHINE GUN AND PACK. BY 1:00 PM THAT DAY ALL THAT WAS LEFT OF THE JAPANESE WERE A FEW SNIPERS, WELL HIDDEN AND WHO GOT IN SOME DIRTY WORK BEFORE THEY WERE KILLED. PERSONALLY I FIRED ABOUT A HUNDRED ROUNDS AT THEM, BECAUSE THEY WERE DROPPING LIKE FLIES AND WERE MUCH TOO FAST ON THEIR FEET AND BELLIES. LATER I HELPED BURY FORTY OF THEM IN ONE GRAVE. THE MARINES LOST FIVE MEN AND WE LOST ONE IN THE ATTACK. OUR BATTLESHIPS AND CRUISERS AND DESTROYERS WERE FIRING ON JAPANESE SHORE INSTALLATIONS ALL THAT DAY. ABOUT 4:00 PM, I WITNESSED THE U.S.S. MCCAULEY BEING SUNK BY A DIRECT HIT FROM A Japanese TORPEDO BOMBER.
THE AIR WAS FULL OF JAPANESE AND AMERICAN FIGHTERS, DOG-FIGHTING AND SIX ZEROES CAME IN LOW OVER US STRAFING. ALONG WITH THEIR SEEMINGLY POOR MARKSMANSHIP THE DEAR LORD WAS REALLY LOOKING AFTER US AS THEY DIDN'T TOUCH A MAN. AS SOON AS THE ISLAND WAS SECURED WE ALL STARTED CUTTING COCOANUT TREES TO MAKE A ROAD TWO MILES LONG TO HAUL THE 155MM GUNS OVER. WE WORKED UNTIL DARK AND SOME OF US DUG IN FOR THE NIGHT BUT NO ONE SLEPT.
UP BEFORE DAYLIGHT AND TO WORK ON THE ROAD. ABOUT 9:AM THE SOLDIERS WHO WERE ON OUR SHIP CAME ASHORE WITH FIXED BAYONETS WANTING TO KNOW WHERE THE JAPS WERE. A MARINE HAD MADE A U.S.O. SIGN AND HUNG IT ON A NATIVE HUT AND TOLD A BUNCH OF SOLDIERS THE SEABEES HAD ALREADY BUILT A U.S.O CLUB FOR THE DOGGIES WHICH ALMOST CAUSED A FREE FOR ALL. BUT THEY PITCHED RIGHT IN AND HELPED WITH THE ROAD WHICH WAS COMPLETED BY 2:00 O'CLOCK AND THE BIG GUNS, TWELVE OF THEM SET IN POSITION. THOSE GUNS SHOOT A SHELL ALMOST AS LARGE AS A 7 INCH AND ARE FOR LONG RANGE. THESE WERE MANNED BY MARINES. THEY BEGAN ALMOST AT ONCE TO SHELL THE AIR-BASE ON MUNDA WHICH KEPT UP ALL THE TIME I WAS THERE. WE ALSO HAD A NAVY BOAT POOL GROUP WITH US WHO OPERATED THE LANDING BOATS. THEY ATTEMPTED TO LAND SOLDIERS ON MUNDA THAT NIGHT BUT WERE UNSUCCESSFUL.
WE TOOK THINGS EASY THE REST OF THE DAY, JUST WATCHING THE DOGFIGHTS. WE ALSO, SET UP A CAMP OF SORTS. THAT NIGHT WE CRAWLED IN OUR PUP-TENTS SOAKING WET AND ALTHOUGH THERE WAS ENEMY AIRCRAFT OVERHEAD ALL NIGHT AND THE ARTILLERY KEPT FIRING I KNOW I SLEPT. WE ALSO HAD SET UP A SMALL GALLEY AND DURING THE NIGHT Japanese SNIPERS SNEAKED THROUGH AND BLEW IT UP WITH HAND GRENADES.
JULY 2ND - AFTER BREAKFAST OF RATION C, WE AND THE SOLDIERS STARTED CARRYING SUPPLIES AND EQUIPMENT AWAY FROM THE BEACH.
I ATE DINNER AT 12 NOON AND JUST AT 1:00 PM. I WAS STANDING WITH ANOTHER SEABEE COUNTING WHAT WE THOUGHT WERE ALL OUR OWN BOMBERS COMING IN OVER THE HILLS. I REMEMBER COUNTING 28 WHEN I SAW A BOMB RELEASE. FOR WHAT SEEMED LIKE HOURS BUT WAS ACTUALLY ONLY A FEW MINUTES ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE. OUR RADAR EQUIPMENT WAS OUT OF COMMISSION. AND WHAT LATER PROVED TO BE 48 BOMBERS ACCOMPANIED BY 48 FIGHTERS SLIPPED IN ON US.
AS SOON AS I SAW THAT FIRST BOMB RELEASED I HIT THE DECK. WAS LYING FLAT ON THE GROUND OR RATHER IN A MUD PUDDLE. FIRST I FELT A BURN IN MY RIGHT SHOULDER, WHICH PROVED TO BE A SMALL PIECE OF SHRAPNEL. THEN I THOUGHT SURELY MY LEFT SIDE WAS CAVED IN. WHEN IT WAS OVER I WAS SURPRISED THAT I COULD MOVE, THEN SLOWLY GOT TO MY FEET. I LOOKED AROUND AND THERE WERE DEAD, WOUNDED AND DYING EVERYWHERE. TWENTY FEET FROM ME WAS A BOMB CRATER BIG ENOUGH TO BURY A TRUCK IN, AND THE CONCUSSION FROM THE BOMB BURSTING MUST HAVE BEEN WHAT MESSED UP MY SIDE. I WAS SPITTING QUITE A BIT OF BLOOD BUT SEEMED TO NAVIGATE OK. MEN SEEMED TO GO CRAZY SCREAMING AND RUNNING EVERY WHICH WAY. I HELPED REMOVE THE WOUNDED FOR ABOUT HALF AN HOUR, AND THEN I MUST HAVE PASSED OUT AS SOME TIME LATER, IT WAS HARD TO BREATHE AND I KEPT SPITTING BLOOD. I WAS TOLD LATER THAT I HAD BEEN GIVEN MORPHINE, ALSO BLOOD PLASMA, LATER ON TWO MORE. I WAS REMOVED TO AN L.S.T. SHIP WHICH WAS USED FOR EVACUATION. WE WERE TO SHOVE OFF THAT NIGHT BUT BECAUSE OF THE NAVAL BATTLE GOING ON WE STAYED THERE UNTIL UNTIL 10:30 AM, JULY 4TH, DURING WHICH TIME I WAS AFRAID I WAS GOING TO CRACK UP, AS SO MANY DID. THERE WERE OVER TWO HUNDRED WOUNDED ABOARD, AND IT GIVES ONE THE MOST HELPLESS FEELING TO JUST LAY THERE AND KNOW THAT A BIG BATTLE IS GOING ON AROUND YOU AND NOT BE ABLE TO SEE A THING. IT WAS REPORTED THERE WERE 13 JAPANESE SHIPS SUNK IN THAT AREA IN TWO DAYS AND GOD ONLY KNOWS HOW MANY AIRCRAFT.
JULY 4TH - AT 10:30 AM WE SHOVED OFF FOR GUADALCANAL ARRIVING THERE AT 7:00 AM, JULY 5TH 1943.
JULY 5TH - WE WERE TRANSFERRED TO AN ARMY RECEIVING HOSPITAL AND AT 12:20 PM TOOK OFF IN AN ARMY TRANSPORT FROM HENDERSON FIELD FOR BUTTONS, NEW HEBRIDES, 700 MILES EAST. I HAD NO CLOTHES WHEN I LEFT RENDOVA AND THE ARMY GAVE ME A PAIR OF PAJAMAS AND A BLANKET. IT WAS THE FIRST TIME I HAD EVER MADE AN AIRPLANE TRIP IN PAJAMAS. THERE WERE TWO OTHER WOUNDED ABOARD, BUT I WAS THE ONLY STRETCHER CASE. ARRIVAL NIGHT IT WAS FOUND THAT I HAD FOUR PIECES OF SHRAPNEL IN MY LEFT LEG, TWO IN THE RIGHT LEG, AND TWO IN MY BACK.
JULY 29TH - LEFT NEW HEBRIDES ABOARD THE U.S.S. PINKNEY A HOSPITAL SHIP AND ARRIVED AUCKLAND NEW ZEALAND, AUGUST 2ND. LEFT AUCKLAND OCTOBER 3RD FOR WELLINGTON, 400 MILES SOUTH WHERE WE BOARED THE S.S. NEW AMSTERDAM, OCTOBER 4TH ARRIVING UNITED STATES OCTOBER 16, 1943.

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Lighting System Installed by Seabees


BOUGAINVILLE (Delayed) — Those canny Seabees are at it again, this time throwing a lot of light on the subject. ChElecM. H. D. Botsford of Beloit, Wis., was called upon to build a portable lighting system to facilitate building a bomber strip at night. He called in ChElecM. Samuel Goldstream of Hollywood, former M-G-M lighting specialist. Presto, a generator was installed in a small trailer and four 500-watt bulbs installed in fixtures on the roof. As more light was called for, 20

reflectors were made and mounted on iron pipe standards, then 14 standard type lens floodlights were found and mounted, and finally a second trailer with pan type stage lights was put into action. A crew under ChElecM. Jay S. Stigler of Long Beach, Calif., installed lines to the lights from four generators on the field. Electricians on watch at the generators ' shut them off when an air raid' alert sounded, plunging the field" into total darkness.—Stf.Sgt. Soloman Blechman, combat correspondent.

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Seabees Unload Under Japanese Fire



Seabees hit the beach at Namur in the third wave while the first wave of assault Marines was still pinned on the beach, according to a wireless dispatch from Robert Trumbull to the New York Times. Under fire, the Seabeesunloaded supplies while splashing in the bullet-spattered surf.


The next morning, after they had formed an ammunition line, a Japanese dashed from a blockhouse with a grenade in his fist, making for an ammunition wagon. A Seabee guard mowed the Japanese down with a tommy gun, and"the grenade thereupon blew him to hell", the guard said.


Shoot Straight


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Seabees. Ground Crews Rebuild Peleliu Strips

PELELIU (Delayed) —Ground crewmen of four Marine fighter squadrons and Seabees began the task of rebuilding two former Japanese fighter and bomber air strips on the American forces' fourth day on this island. Even as they worked, enemy mortar shells and sniper fire fell around them. The Marine aviation units landed less than 24 hours after the invation started. For three days, Marines of these groups served as ammunition carriers and runners for the ground troops and as stretcher bearers.- TSgt. Bill Goodrich, combat correspondent.

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"GETTING A BANG OUT OF LIFE"


When a B-29 Squadron in the Marianas needed a large area adjacent field cleared and graded, a Seabee special battalion sent over their chief catskinner, Edmund O. Otterson, MM2c.


Although the area was rough and uneven, with heavy cane underbrush and jagged sponge-like coral formations, and he had to rip out the road-bed of an old Japanese narrow gauge railway Otterson, working alone, completed the job in two days, much to the surprise of the B-29 officer in charge of the construction project.


I got a tremendous bang out of watching those giant B-29s come in for a landing right over my head," said the Seabee, One of them, returning from a bombing mission over Tokyo, had a motor shot out, a propeller bent and one of the huge wheels dragging about halfway out. But still he made it back.


Otterson came close to getting another kind of a bang on another clearing , and grading job.


The other day one our'dozers struck a buried Japanese land mine and the explosion blew off the whole right side the cat. The driver was leaning over the left side at the time and didn't get a scratch.


What puzzled me," the Seabee said, "was that 1'd been running a big cat over . the same spot all the previous day and still when this small dozer went over it just once--everything blew sky high!

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DEPRIVE JAPANESE OF JUNGLE HOMES


Seabees spend their spare time on Guam dynamiting the caves that have been the last shelter for Japanese still at large on the island, reported Warren Moscow, correspondent for the New York Times.


Moscow, who accompanied the men of one outfit on their volunteer blasting assignments, said the party, which included five enlisted men, a permanent officer of the day nicknamed Corney, and one timorous reporter, took along dynamite" two carbines, two 45s, two M-3 tommy guns, known affectionately as grease guns, half a dozen phosphorous grenades which start a lovely fire in a cave - half a dozen fragmentation grenades, five marine knives and a machete.


We drove in a truck down a road, built by the Seabees," he wrote, "that can only be described as a Guam version of a particularly tough section of the Burma Road. We left this for a trail and then abandoned the truck to go into what the Seabees called open country. It was Close jungle to this reporter.


We found three caves. Corney uncorked a home-made grenade, had Browny

cover him with a grease gun: and talked,Japanese into the cave for a few moments,but got no answer. In went one of Corney's home-made grenades, and when the smoke cleared away, the demolition buys went in. There were no Japanese, there when they went in, and there was no cave a few moments after they came out.


The two remaining caves were blasted without ,incident and the boys Corney, Brown, Smitty, baker, Myer, and 'I want to go home Dominick" were pretty apologetic about not encountering any enemy opposition that afternoon.


Moscow should have been along the previous day they explained, when four Seabees, looking for salvageable material a hundred yards from an American ammunition dump on the other side of the ridge, interrupted a Japanese card party. A seven-handed game what was probably poker. The Seabees confiscated three rifles and a side of beef, which looked as if it had come from a cow recently reported missing by a Chamurro farmer and beat a tactful retreat.


On the trip this afternoon, the newspaperman said, "when no Japanese were encountered, the sole damage to any American was suffered by this correspondent, who was bitten by several mosquitoes and whose watch stopped about the time the dynamite went off . The Seabees promised to fix the watch tomorrow.

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LOST WITHOUT SEABEES, SAYS MARINE VETERAN OF BOUGAINVILLE


Seabees did the impossible at Bougainville, declared Marine First Sgt. Edgar

D. McMurry, of Pueblo, Colo., veteran of more than 20 months' duty with Carlson's Raiders in the Pacific.


A high-ranking Australian Army officer and !be majority of U. S. Marines agreed that it was physically impossible far the Seabees, even with their heavy equipment, to tear roads and airstrips from the heavily-jungled island.


A month later, as they watched huge 10-wheel trucks, carrying supplies and ammunition. rolling smoot'hly over "Marine Drive", an eight-mile, four lane highway built by the Seabees and dedicated to their Leatherneck mates, the Australian and the Marines cheerfully admitted they had underestimated the abilities of the Fighter-Builders.


I don't see how we could have gone into Bougainville without the Seabees," was the way McMurry summed it up



During the assault, the Marine recailed, he saw one of the landing craft peppered by Japanese fire. When the ramp crashed down. a Seabee, "bloody but unbowed", maneuvered his bulldozer onto the beach.



"He made a couple of turns and then started right in to tear up the jungle and build a road," said the sergeant.



The Seabees not only built roads, airstrips and other installations, but their surveyors also accompanied combat patrol's, he added. In one instance, said McMurry, the Seabees grabbed up all available automatic rifles when the Marines were having some left flank trouble with the Japs.

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DARE DEATH TO AID COMRADES


Four Seabees who remained with their wounded comrades in the dense jungles of Bougainville, even after combat troops in the area were ordered to withdraw, have been commended for their outstanding courage by Major General A. H. Turnage, Commanding General of the 3rd Marine Division.


The Seabees; Joseph P Scraggs, SFlc; Walter T. Sims, SFlc; Kenneth W. Peterson, S1c; and James A. Boroski, S1c, were members of a detail assigned to blaze trails in advance of the Marines front lines during the early phases of the campaign when a Japanese mortar shell exploded nearby, killing one and wounding six of the party.


The four, joined by CCM Joseph P. Bumgardner who was in charge of a detail building advance bridges in the vicinity and who was cited by General Turnage for his action, disregarded the continued heavy Japanese mortar barrage to administer first-aid and comfort to the wounded until rescue parties were able to effect their evacuation.

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Marines who fought for and won the beachhead at Empress Augusta Bay last November and December would never recognize the prize today.


Where the Third Marine Division landed and beat its way inland despite jungle and Japs, the Army is now in control. Improvements have been made so fast that Staff Sgt. Bill Burnett, a Marine Corps Combat Correspondent, revisiting the perimeter, feared he had been dropped off on the wrong island.


The roads," he said, "are completely strange to me. Last November only the Piva trail twisted through the undergrowth. Later Marine Drive was the main highway, but now a maze of roads has made every point easily accessible.


The jungle which the Naval Construction Battalions first attacked to build Cape Torokina's air strip has almost disappeared. On the higher level of the Piva strips, revetments and roads are numerous.


The setup is so permanent it's appearance that upon hearing a remark about the landing fields the Seabees built, one soldier, new to the scene, exclaimed:


"I thought the Japs built 'em and we just had to capture 'em!"


The sites of Marine battles at Piva Forks and along the Koromokina River have been cleared. Huge gardens have been planted in some places, supplying'fresh vegetables to the camps.


Americans no longer sleep in foxholes, though one is always within diving distance. Many of the camps have screened-in tents with wooden floors. Washing clothes and bathing in the streams is no longer necessary, now that electric washers and shower baths have been installed. Post exchanges , movies, and field post offices are easily available.


Along the front lines, now almost a perfect semi-circle around Cape Torokina, pillboxes have grown up from mere holes in the ground. Each is sandbagged thoroughly, and protected by a thick log roof. In most cases pillboxes are connected by trenches or tunnels.


This is security and comfort on a beachhead which is only a fraction of the size of the island a beachhead that was clinched last month when the Army withstood everything the Japs could throw at it in four days and killed more than 5,000 Japs in the process."

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THEY DON'T ALL WEAR MEDALS!



Michael G. Docherty of the 75th Battalion wrote a letter to the Columbus, Ohio, "Citizen" recently. Because Mike's letter is of interest to all Seabees, we are reprinting it in part .


Docherty told the "Citizen" about one of his mates. First commenting on war heroes in general, Mike then said, "There are some others, none the less heroic, who are never mentioned in dispatches, who are known only to those who serve near them. We have one such here in the 75th.


His name is Leonard Cooley of Lafayette, Indiana. He is 51 years old, the oldest man in the battalion. Mr. Cooley is tall, thin, not very strong. Yet he never has complained of the hardships we have to endure.


He has never used his age or prestige to avoid work. I've seen him up to the waist in a swamp cutting timber. I've seen him work all day on a sun-scorched beach, unloading ships. He never complained.


He never complained when his son almost died in an Australian hospital. He never complained of the rheumatism he got from sleeping in a muddy foxhole . His devotion to duty is an example for everyone.


"Mr. Cooley's family is worthy of him. His two sons are in the Navy. His daughter is in the WAVES. And his wife works in a war plant. A perfect score for patriotism.


In a rough outfit like ours, where most men are addressed by a profane nickname, Leonard Cooley, an enlisted man, is so admired he is called MISTER, a courtesy ordinarily given only to officers. We are proud of him."

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